The owner of a local moving company is leading the effort to put toys, clothes, and household items in the hands of families in transitional housing in Richmond for Christmas.
The nonprofit Home Again moves homeless people into permanent housing and props them up with supportive services. Toy Drive organizer Andre Neita, owner of Professional Moving & Storage, simply follows his heart to make Christmas special for kids.
Everyone is working to make Christmas happier than what these children are currently going through because many of them receiving help from Home Again don't know what to expect when they see their parents homeless.
"I knew it was coming. I lost my job and I tried to stay as long as I could. I didn't have any help so I realized I had to do something," says parent Jennifer Ambrose.
Ambrose and her two children found Home Again and are receiving services to get them back on track.
"I cried. Before I even came here because I was very happy," she said. "Knowing that I have a roof. I want Christmas morning to be like Christmas morning the way I grew up. I want her to be happy and my son because they both deserve it."
The gift drive organizer says toys represent hope for children. It takes their mind off adult worries and enables them to just breathe.
"They've been through a lot not having a home to come to," said Neita. "I grew up not having a lot myself and I see the appreciation when I give to children."
They need your generosity to collect much more than toys.
"Things to last them throughout the year. Comforters, sheets, things they can take with them. Jackets, clothes, diapers," said Neita.
Home Again provided housing, counseling, parenting and mental health services to more than seven hundred families last year.
"Homelessness is a traumatic experience," said Home Again Executive Director Lorae Ponder. "You add the stress of the holidays and it's hard for families. We try to relieve as much of that stress as we can by helping with gifts and toys and clothing and housing items people will need when
they move out of the shelter."
To help out, drop off unwrapped gifts Dec. 1-20 at Professional Moving & Storage, 2209 Station Road in Richmond.
If you'd like to be a volunteer gift wrapper or make a monetary gift call (804) 291-3543.
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